The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves -Thomas Merton
I haven’t been doing much writing lately, mostly because early pregnancy makes me tired, but also because I just haven’t felt like it. I’ve even felt a little bit turned off by blogging altogether.
Don’t get me wrong- I intend to keep at it. I’m normally such a life-loving goober that its rare for me to experience feelings of disenchantment, so when it happens, I feel a real urgency to “solve” the issue. I didn’t have to sit with my feelings for very long to realize that I was disgusted by the fact that the majority of my exposure to ideas, art and culture had somehow become limited to what appeared in my Facebook feed. I was feeling a bit grossed out by all of it, particularly by those snippets and statuses situated at the intersection of religion and politics. I realize that all of these polemic issues regarding morality are to be discussed: I would never argue otherwise. I just needed to take a break from it myself. Honestly, I was beginning to feel that if there is indeed a God, a Being of love and consciousness and unconditional mercy, that God was being made provincial by many of the posts shared on blogging and social media platforms. I refer here to no particular idealogical group.
Before I was a mother, I was a college student. I was so gorged with ideas during that time in my life that I’ve been living off the fat for many years: in college, I was able to attend poetry readings on the regular (by poets that were actually quite brilliant), I met artists, I was assigned theory, I heard feminist speakers, I went to shows. I didn’t fully realize it then, but my artistic temperament was being gingerly hand-fed by the university and the surrounding community.
Five years later and I feel quite starved to read, to see, to know good work, to have good (uninterrupted) conversation.
So I resolved to sink deeper into art over the last few weeks. I can’t spend my days at museums and cafes, obviously. Nonetheless, I needed a fresh perspective and a cleanse from screens, from witnessing the opinions of others. Really I just needed to read a damn book.
Over the last month I’ve been reading two: The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor and The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton. Both books were already living on my shelf, thanks to my thrifting habit. Little did I know when I pulled them down that these two authors enjoyed a lively adoration for one another in their own lifetimes.
Obviously both writers are Catholic, a choice I made on purpose simply because I was feeling so disillusioned by the bland rhetoric I was finding online. They are also both somewhat weird, which I appreciate more than I can say. And both O’Connor and Merton are genuine artists, recognized for their writing apart from their faith, which was the most important criteria in their selection. Because while I am interested in becoming a Catholic, I’m not entirely certain that I am interested in being a Good Catholic. I would rather just be some sort of artist, and know/write about God from that place. (For the record, I do believe that the authors I’ve mentioned achieved being both “Good Catholics” and artists, but I’m not really sure that’s my path.)
So the goal is to continue to feed myself on an artistic level so that my cup is full. I’m attempting to put self-care first during my first trimester, and while I haven’t been enormously successful in that venture, I have lowered my expectations for myself. At least until around the time of the fall equinox. Autumn always renews my spirit.